Tales of TI, TWC and STEM

 In the olden days, when things called “columns” graced the printed page, readers would, on occasion, be subjected to things we in the biz termed “grab bags.”

These were the columns of last resort – when a columnist couldn’t come up with one subject to last for an entire column’s length, they’d throw together a mix of subjects, a veritable (you guessed it) grab bag.

I would never subject you, the gentle readers, to a grab bag column. Because, of course, this is a blog. Instead, you get the cyber-equivalent of the grab bag, which I have termed “The Blog Blag.” All rights reserved. Trademark pending.

So here’s a few items I had hoped to report on over the past bit, but generally ran out of time (I blame the election, and its lingering after-effects.)

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I reported on a story last week from Unum’s South Portland offices, where the company hosted a tech night for high school students to promote interest in studying science, technology, engineering or math subjects and going into those fields – commonly referred to as STEM fields.

There are a number of other companies doing their part in the area to support the STEM careers. Texas Instruments, which recently acquired National Semiconductor, earlier this month launched its $1 million “Power of STEM Education” initiative, aimed at communities where NatSemi had a presence, like South Portland in Maine. National had been a strong supporter of STEM in the state previously, as well.

According to TI, initial grant recipients were selected based on their impact on STEM education in the local communities, with the first $225,000 distributed this year, the remaining $775,000 to be distributed over the next three years.

This year’s Maine recipient is the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI), a nonprofit marine research institution. GMRI will receive $50,000 for LabVenture!

“Through this program, GMRI provides free, universal access to an immersive, statewide science education experience for fifth and sixth grade students, of which many are from rural communities and disadvantaged circumstances. This grant will enable GMRI to reach 10,000 students, representing 70 percent of all fifth and sixth graders in Maine,” TI said.

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On another STEM note, Time Warner Cable (TWC) announced on Nov. 18 that Ann Charlton of Kennebunk has been named the local winner for its Super Connector Search contest.

According to a release, TWC will donate $5,000 to Kennebunk’s Sea Road School, which plans to use the funding to connect its students with hands-on STEM learning opportunities.

TWC says: Charlton lives in Kennebunk with her husband, Scott, and their two children, Katie, 13, and Thomas, 10. She was named local winner for Time Warner Cable’s Super Connector contest because of her efforts to bring a FIRST Lego League robotics team to Kennebunk schools. Because of her work, Sea Road School has three teams preparing to compete in the statewide FIRST Lego League championship on December 10 at the Augusta Civic Center.

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And, in non-STEM news, it looks like workers’ comp costs will be going down in 2012, according to Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa.

Cioppa said recently that the Bureau of Insurance has approved the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI) request to decrease workers’ compensation loss costs in Maine by an average of 3.2 percent for policy year 2012.

The upshot? Cioppa said the approved decrease in loss costs should reduce premiums in the insured market by about $6.1 million per year.

“This loss cost filing indicates that the frequency of claims is decreasing faster than any increase in medical and indemnity expenses for each claim,” Superintendent Cioppa commented.  “This decrease can be attributed, in part, to the continuing focus on safety by Maine employers.”

The effective date for the proposed rates is January 1, 2012.